02.12.2008 08:08 - It's Christmas Time Again
Christmas in Cologne... one of my least favorite times of year.
Before you go accusing me of Scroogelike bah-humbuggery, allow me to explain.
What happens every year in Cologne before Christmas?
And what do the Christmas Markets fill up with?
You know the sort. They come up to you and shout "DOO YOUU SPEAK ENGLISHHH?!" at you as though you're some sort of retard, and when you tell them you're English, they walk off! They go all round the stores in Cologne complaining that they don't know what anything is or how much it costs, "because it's all written in foreign", and then they go and do all their christmas shopping in the English Shop, buying all the stuff they could have stayed at home and bought without shelling out 300 quid for a coach-trip across the Channel, whilst mumbling under their breath about "foreign rubbish".
Over the years I've been subject to a number of embarrasing scenes caused by the English. For example, my first week in Germany was spent in a practically-empty hotel, which at the weekend filled up with English Christmas-Market tourists. You could tell by the whining coming out of the breakfast room: "Oh this bacon doesn't taste right", "Oh they don't make the tea properly do they?", "Oh the sausages taste of garlic". In the market, the moaning carried on. "What's that? Glue-wine? Has it got glue in it?" "Them mushrooms have so much garlic you'll kill a vampire in a single breath!" Later on I was witness to an upper-class twit of a woman shouting at a shop assistant in Kaufhof. "CHOCOLATE MONOPOLY!" she screamed, "DO YOU UNDERSTAND? CHOCOLATE MONOPOLY!!"
Rumour has it that the idea of German markets has caught on in the UK, and you can now go to a fully-sanitized UK version in most UK cities. Apparently they're full of german tourists complaining that the sausages are tasteless, the beer's warm, and that everyone keeps mentioning the war.
So, as you can understand, I've taken to avoiding the Christmas Markets. The trouble is, it's getting harder to avoid them. They're springing up everywhere. They seem to be spreading like a disease. As well as the usual ones on Neumarkt, Rudolfplatz, Roncalliplatz and the Altermarkt (which has slowly gotten bigger, taking over Heumarkt) they've spread down the Rhein to the Chocolate factory (the medieval Christmas Market, where you can experience an authentic medieval christmas - including a dose of the shits, if you're stupid enough to eat anything) and over the Rhine to Deutz etc. It's only a matter of time before one springs up on Ebertplatz or in the Media Park. And with them comes the worst possible thing.
Christmas music, the way that only german Schläger singers can sing it, blasting out of every single market stall.
Honestly, it's like having warm treacle poured your ears, with extra insincerity and zimt.
For this reason, every year I empty the mp3 player's hard disk of it's normal fayre and fill it with the most punishing doses of heavy rock and death metal I can find.
Believe me, life feels much better with a couple of mugs of gluhwein inside you whilst a certain Mr. Ian Kilmister screams his theories on card-playing down your lugholes.
And a Merry Fuckin' Christmas to every one of my readers.